UK's Centrica signs deal to import US natural gas


Centrica, one of the UK's main energy providers, has signed a deal to buy billions of cubic meters of natural gas'>liquefied natural gas from a US plant, in the first deal clearly intended to bring gas from North America to the UK.

The contract with Cheniere Energy Partners will see Centrica import 1.75 million tpy of gas, enough to power around 1.8 million UK homes, according to a statement by the firm. It is the first such deal between a US supplier and a UK utility.

Sam Laidlaw, Centrica's CEO, said in the statement: "In an increasingly global gas market, this landmark agreement represents a significant step forward in our strategy...helping to ensure the UK's future energy security."

The contract is subject to Cheniere getting the necessary regulatory approval and securing finance before it becomes finalized.

In February, Centrica announced that it would not be participating in a plan to build new nuclear power stations in the UK, and there has since been speculation as to where it will deploy the cash reserves on its balance sheet. In the company's preliminary results statement the firm indicated that it planned to expand its North American business.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news, saying in the statement: "Future gas supplies from the US will help diversify our energy mix and provide British consumers with a new long-term, secure and affordable source of fuel."

Energy security in for the UK "lies in diversity," according to Ed Davey, the UK's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, also quoted in the release. Mr. Davey noted that the UK is already supplied with gas from Norway, the Netherlands and Qatar.

Dow Jones Newswires

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